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Haze.

A complete nightmare, like Cube without any light or thought or the retard. Man wakes up in underground tunnels, finds his teeth wrapped around a pipe, crawls through water surrounded by blood and severed limbs. Eventually finds a woman stuck there too. Tries to escape with her, and he makes it out… but finds her dead after he escapes. Suddenly he’s an old man and they’re together then he’s alone again.

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Strangely moving… a true horror movie, terrifying, sad and thoughtful. Ambiguous in an interesting way, not a frustrating one. Our man (played by director Tsukamoto) falls asleep, awakens, has an identity crisis, may be dreaming the whole thing, may have committed murder, but at one point in the future or present, he was happy with the woman he loved, watching fireworks. Time just melts in this movie. Would like to see again. Has been wrongly compared to the recent gorefest torture movies like Hostel, actually rises far above those. I hate that I ended up liking Tsukamoto so much… may have to someday reassess the headachey mess that was Tetsuo The Iron Man.

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Renji (the guy from Dolls) may be psychologically torturing his wife, or they may have a normal, boring life. The wife may be hiding in the attic pretending she’s a spider, or she may not. Depends who you ask.

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She meets a guy I don’t remember where, and talks to him about her horrible husband… one day they are caught talking or possibly he wants to hug her or something at the house and she retreats to the attic and becomes a series of bugs eventually a giant spider that comes down the stairs and is about to eat the husband then she turns back into the girl with a scissors in her hands and he hugs her and it’s all over I think then they’re packing and maybe moving out.

An okay movie, whatever.

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Watched the German version with orchestral score. Movie made me feel ten feet tall, with wings. Score is nothing to worry about, I turned the volume down… will have to try the harp score next time. Brilliant, full of harsh angles and crazed effects and loopy overacting. Presence! The movie booms with exclamation points! Guy Maddin must love it.

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An angel stupidly bets the devil (err, Emil Jannings as Mephisto) that he can’t corrupt humanitarian scientist Faust (a swedish actor who died of pneumonia in the late 30’s), with the world at stake. Emil first brings a badass plague, then allows Faust the power to cure a few people to make him feel like he’s all good. Then, the devil offers Faust youth so he can lust after some very white young woman (Camilla Horn, who acted through the late 80’s). Faust never really gets the girl, though he sleeps with her once… then is blamed for killing her brother and flees on his magic carpet. The girl’s mother dies, she’s put in the stocks, has a baby, loses it homeless in the snow because nobody will help her, then is burned at the stake accused of killing her own child. Faust hears her cry for help at the last minute, holds her and they die in the fire together. Faust goes straight to hell but for some reason the world is saved?

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Emil is awesomely sinister. Movie is a visual delight, a story well told, everything a movie should be. Will have to check out the commentary, the harp score, the export version, etc etc.

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Six Figures Getting Sick
is exactly that. With an annoying siren.

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The Alphabet
is my favorite David Lynch short film so far.

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The Grandmother
is so disturbing on so many levels.

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The Amputee
is lame, but it was a one-off overnight project so whatever.

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The Cowboy and the Frenchman
is pretty damned funny, actually.

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Lumiere
is neat, with some simulated cuts and visual effects.

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Severine is the wife of Pierre (Jean Sorel), but is unhappy with him sexually. She’s got a rich fantasy life, though. Sleigh bells and cats and a horse-drawn carriage lead her into rape-fantasies with coachmen, dreams of being tied up and humiliated and made to play dead. Family friend Michel Piccoli (of The Milky Way, Contempt and Diabolik) tells Severine about a brothel, which she hesitantly joins. Hilarity ensues when a customer (Marcel) becomes dangerously infatuated with her, and Piccoli eventually visits the place again, sees Severine there and threatens to tell her husband. In a jealous fit, Marcel shoots Pierre then is killed by the cops. Piccoli sits alone with Pierre, now confined to a wheelchair (and blind?) and presumably tells him Severine’s secret. The coachmen float us away into fantasy once more.

Terrific looking movie and really great performances. It’s got that Bunuel-dream-crawl pacing. Maybe best watched very late at night. Doesn’t make me weary like most Bunuel movies… probably one of my faves. Not as sexy as I’d maybe promised, more bizarre… sense of danger over sensuality, mostly a tense movie. Katy sorta liked it I guess.

Terrific! Maybe the best samurai movie I’ve seen. I never cared much for samurai movies, though… still, this was a blast. Stylish and musical in that late-60’s manner, with all the zooms and close-ups and depth-of-field tricks that you’d want.

Tatsuya Nakadai is Genta, “a former samurai haunted by his past, prefers living anonymously with gangsters” and Etsushi Takahashi is Hanji, “previously a farmer, longs to become a noble samurai”. Criterion’s promo blurb continues: “But when both men discover the wrongdoings of the nefarious clan leader, they side with a band of rebels who are under siege at a remote mountain cabin. Based on the same source novel as Akira Kurosawa’s Sanjuro, Kill! playfully tweaks samurai film convention, borrowing elements from established chanbara classics and seasoning them with a little Italian western.”

Tatsuya Nakadai starred in When a Woman Ascends the Stairs, Sanjuro (second-billed to Mifune), Harakiri, High and Low (again second to Mifune), Kwaidan, The Face of Another, Sword of Doom, Samurai Rebellion, Kagemusha (title role), Ran (the elderly lord) and this year’s The Inugamis. Wowie.

Lots of samurai movie recommendations in Chris D’s essay at the Criterion site. One day when I’ve completely run out of must-see movies, I must see the whole Zatoichi series. “What is so rewarding about Kill! is Okamoto’s expert balance of seemingly disparate elements. He walks a tightrope, skillfully juggling humorous moments, fierce swordplay, and more sober, dramatic sequences, all punctuated by Masaru Sato’s alternately whimsical and wistful score.” Howard Hampton’s essay is useful too, and saves me from attempting a character description: “Tatsuya Nakadai as a hobo swordsman, plus a peasant bumpkin turned would-be samurai, a dispossessed retainer, one kidnapped chamberlain and one kidnap-per-chamberlain, a mercenary who needs thirty ryo to buy his wife’s freedom from a brothel, and even seven squabbling samurai in search of a raison d’être.”

Guess I strongly prefer these late 60’s samurai movies to the stuffy, slow, traditional 50’s ones that everyone so reveres. This one, darker and more cynical, reminds me more of Seijun Suzuki than Akira Kurosawa. Fun, nimble little movie, and brilliant looking camerawork throughout.

Oh dear. I finally see Days of Being Wild and it makes as much of an impression as As Tears Go By or Ashes of Time did, which is to say, not much. Probably shouldn’t have watched it over four separate days.

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A blur of characters and situations: a young man tries to convince his stepmother to give up the identity of his real mom – later he visits the mom but she won’t see him. maggie cheung is cute and two guys like her, including andy lau, who was a cop but becomes a sailor. Hong Kong and the Philippines are involved. Leslie Cheung must be the main guy, but I never recognize him. At the end someone is shot maybe in a train maybe over a passport. Oh here we go, courtesy of the IMDB:

“Set in 1960, the film centres on the young, boyishly handsome Yuddy, who learns from the drunken ex-prostitute who raised him that she is not his real mother. Hoping to hold onto him, she refuses to divulge the name of his real birth mother. The revelation shakes Yuddy to his very core, unleashing a cascade of conflicting emotions. Two women have the bad luck to fall for Yuddy. One is a quiet lass named Su Lizhen who works at a sports arena, while the other is a glitzy showgirl named Mimi. Perhaps due to his unresolved Oedipal issues, he passively lets the two compete for him, unable or unwilling to make a choice. As Lizhen slowly confides her frustration to a cop named Tide, he falls for her. The same is true for Yuddy’s friend Zeb, who falls for Mimi. Later, Yuddy learns of his birth mother’s whereabouts and heads out to the Philippines.”

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I noticed Mimi/Lulu from 2046 was in this, but didn’t realize Maggie’s character was the same Su Lizhen as in the others. The two men stay together in a hotel at the end (in room 204, one digit short), not at first realizing that they both knew Maggie… the hotel room scenes reminiscent of Happy Together (not that I’m queering this film, just saying the setup is similar).

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Exciting photography, in that grainy Chungking Express way, not in the polished Mood For Love style. Gotta watch the whole again, obviously… a whole mini-fest of Wong Kar-Wai videos is in order.

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Fez from That 70’s Show and his girlfriend Maria Full of Grace sneak over the border with Luis Guzmán’s help, and they get jobs in the meat plant. Chrissy “Growing Pains” Seaver works at the McSomethingBurger after school where she has management potential and hopes of college. Oscar-nominated Greg Kinnear is a McSomething PR executive trying to clear up some rumors and student studies regarding shit in the meat.

Fez gets hurt on the job, Maria’s sister gets drugged up and has lots of sex with her supervisor, Maria gets away from the meat plant for a while but ends up back there working on the kill floor. Whole American dream thing doesn’t work out as planned.

Chrissy gets a visit from her inspirational rebel uncle Ethan Hawke, who turns her against the McSomethingBurger, leading her to quit her job and organize an attempted freedom raid on the local cow ranch.

Greg gets to interview two colorful, obstinate characters. Indie rancher Kris Kristofferson tells him that the meat plant is filthy and deceptive, and pally meat-packer/restaurant liason Bruce Willis basically tells him to fuck off and not go digging around anymore.

Avril Lavigne is in the movie, but I don’t know who she plays. Far as I can tell, she’s only in there in order to give people an easy way to ridicule the movie when I tell ’em I saw it… like Lindsay Lohan in A Prairie Home Companion. Ethan Hawke serves the same purpose, but I kinda like him.

Mostly an easygoing picture, feels pretty comfy to watch, except when illegal Mexican immigrants are getting their legs chewed off by the meat machines. The shit-in-the-meat stuff was of course no big deal since I’ve read the source book and stopped eating McSomething. Despite what any lefty film critics might shout, it seems a minor Linklater movie, way below the Scanner Darkly / Before Sunset level. An admirable picture, well done, would’ve been cool if it’d been a hit and exposed the ideas & research of the book to malls across America, but it died quickly and quietly instead.

Katy didn’t watch it but wanted to.

Huge Ackman is a simian surgeon/scientist in a secluded snowy setting. Rachel Weisz (the superbitch from “the shape of things”) is his cancerous fantasy-author wife. Ellen Diet-Pills Burstyn runs the lab that Huge works at, and Ethan “you dumb bastard- it’s not a schooner, it’s a sailboat” Suplee is some guy who works there too. Huge needs to cure the monkeys of their cancer in order that he may cure his wife of hers.

BUT, Huge is also a Spanish conquistador looking for the tree of life in the New World in order that he may save Spain’s Queen Weisz from the invading forces. AND, Huge is a bald futureman in a futuresphere floating towards an enchanted nebula in order that he may save The Weisz Tree Of Life from its impending death. These two things aren’t actually happening, but are being imagined by our present-day Huge & Weisz in their books and dreams and imaginations.

In all three realities, Huge is obsessed with saving Weisz, needs her, but as Paul said, thrives on her illness(es) so that he’ll be able to keep saving her. He literally feeds off her in futureworld and fetishizes the ring she gives him in Spain, which he loses down a drain in the present and tattooes onto himself in futureworld.

Movie is beautiful almost all of the time, with good music swelling up at the end, some fab fantasy segments (plants sprouting out of Huge’s body after he first tastes the tree’s sap), some wacky effects (apparently stuff was composited onto microscopic cells to create futureworld instead of the whole thing being a CG creation), lots of closeups on our heroes, some total distractions by the schooner guy, and neat connections between the three planes.

Those connections are what keep the movie interesting. It’s such a complete story, circular and self-referencing, going back over itself and leaping way ahead of itself. A well-built movie, obviously so clearly thought out, more than just a straightforward story (though it is that too: Huge tries to save wife, she dies anyway, game over). Imaginatively detailed, every scene a necessary part of the whole. Deserves a better shake than it’s getting.

Katy may have liked this (she liked Pi). Paul at least didn’t hate it and everyone else is incredulous that I bothered to see it.